Seven individuals from four Uplifting Athletes Chapters run Pro Day Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns


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For three straight years, members of the Uplifting Athletes chapter network have run campaigns during the NFL Combine to shine a spotlight on the rare disease community.

This year three players ran Reps For Rare Diseases fundraising and awareness campaigns at the NFL Combine.

Not all chapter members with NFL aspirations were extended combine invites, but many participated in their team Pro Day and several ran Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns.

Four schools, Illinois, Maryland, Florida State and Arizona, had individuals volunteer to run Reps For Rare Diseases campaigns during their Pro Day events in March.

All total the Pro Day Reps for Rare Diseases campaigns raised more than $5,000 to support the Uplifting Athletes mission to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Four players, former chapter president Joe Spencer, Michael Martin, Rob Bain and Ryan Frain, teamed up to run individual campaigns under the Illinois Chapter umbrella.

Rod Johnson represented Florida State, former chapter President Josh Kern carried the flag for Arizona and Roman Braglio stepped up at Maryland.

Thanks to all the fans who supported these seven individuals representing four student-athlete led Uplifting Athletes Chapters on NFL Pro Days across the country.

Former Florida State offensive tackle Rod Johnson doing Reps For Rare Diseases at 2017 Pro Day March 28


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Former two-time All-ACC offensive tackle Rod Johnson will make his upcoming NFL Pro Day a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Johnson is excited about his Reps For Rare Diseases campaign to raise money for life saving rare disease research with Uplifting Athletes.

Fans can pledge any amount for every bench press repetition Johnson performs at Florida State Pro Day on March 28th by visiting his fundraising site.

Florida State’s inspiration for joining Uplifting Athletes to help tackle rare diseases in 2013 was head coach Jimbo Fisher’s son Ethan and his battle with the rare blood disorder Fanconi anemia.

Being involved with the FSU Chapter and Lift For Life in support of his head coach was an important part of Johnson’s college experience and is why he chose to launch his Reps For Rare Diseases campaign.

“As I take a step toward my NFL dream, I’d like to use this opportunity to give back,” Johnson said. “I have committed my performance at the Florida State Pro Day to support Uplifting Athletes and its mission.”

Make your pledge now to join Johnson in the fight against rare diseases during Florida State Pro Day.

Clemson Tigers highlight Uplifting Athletes Chapter bowl season by winning National Championship


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Clemson became the second university with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter to win the college football National Championship with its dramatic victory over defending champion Alabama.

Florida State won the final BCS National Championship in 2014 to cap a perfect 14-0 season.

Two of the last four champions of college football, Clemson and Florida State, are part of Uplifting Athletes student-athlete chapter network.

The Clemson Chapter held its inaugural Lift For Life event this past summer and also held a Touchdown Pledge Drive for the Syracuse game this season in support of the rare disease community.

Congratulations to the Tigers on winning their first National Championship since 1981 and thanks to Clemson Chapter President and punter Andy Teasdall for all his hard work in making 2016 a success on and off the field.

Big Ten champion Penn State and Pac-12 winner Washington each finished its respective seasons with losses, but that won’t diminish the huge strides forward each program made nationally.

The Huskies fell to Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal and the Nittany Lions were part of a thrilling and record setting Rose Bowl game won by USC.

Clemson climbed the highest mountain in college football by winning it all, but five other programs with an Uplifting Athletes Chapter ended the 2016 campaign on a high note with a victory in their respective bowl game.

Florida State edged Michigan in the Orange Bowl, Northwestern held off Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl, Georgia Tech nearly doubled up Kentucky in the Taxslayer Bowl, NC State put up 42 points on Vanderbilt in the Independence Bowl and Baylor snapped its losing streak by rolling Boise State in the Cactus Bowl.

Maryland, Nebraska and South Carolina were also part of the 2016 bowl slate but came up just short.

Taking a look back at 2016 for Uplifting Athletes


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In a year of change on many fronts for Uplifting Athletes, taking time to reflect is time well spent.

Our purpose as a national nonprofit remains unaffected. We serve the 30 million Americans that comprise the rare disease community. But our scope and mission underwent a natural evolution to kick off the year.

We expanded our scope of support to the larger rare disease community as a whole and settled on five categories of rare disease groups, rare cancers, rare blood disorders, rare genetic disorders, rare autoimmune disorders and rare muscular disorders.

Our mission has remained the same since 2007, but we overhauled the words to more adequately reflect where we want to go in the future. Uplifting Athletes is a national nonprofit organization that inspires the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

In February we crowned our eighth Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion. And we celebrated USC long snapper Jake Olson and his amazing rare disease story at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Gala in March.

Our annual Gridiron Gala was also in March, and for the first time we put the focus of our annual fundraising event squarely on rare disease patients and their families. It was a celebration of battling, and in some cases overcoming, the challenges of a rare disease journey.

In May we welcomed a record 30-plus leaders in college football to Northwestern University for our annual Chapter Leadership Conference. The weekend painted a promising picture for the future of our nationwide network of student-athlete led chapters.

Over the course of the late spring and into the summer, 19 chapters ran a Lift For Life event. This is the signature fundraising and rare disease awareness event, but trust us when we say no two events are the same.

Penn used its annual Iron Quaker lifting competition to hold its Lift For Life, Notre Dame holds a bowling event to engage the community, at Arizona it’s a kids clinic and Nebraska holds an annual 5K/Fun Run as its signature event.

Clemson, Georgia Tech, Washington and Northern Arizona each held their inaugural Lift For Life events in 2016. And the charter chapter of Uplifting Athletes, Penn State, held its 14th annual Lift For Life.

The funds that are raised from these annual Lift For Life events supports rare disease research and patient focused programs. And this fall, Uplifting Athletes allotted research funds to support translational research being done at UPMC in Pittsburgh, Fox Chase in Philadelphia and Penn.

August was a month of more transition for the organization. Former Chapter Manager Becky Mayes left after nearly four years with Uplifting Athletes and Director of Marketing Mark Mihalik took a similar position with PledgeIt.

Those departures provided Uplifting Athletes the opportunity to hire Rob Long as the Director of Strategic Development and Chapter Liaison. Long is the inspiration behind Syracuse forming a chapter, a former rare disease patient who overcame his rare brain cancer and played college football.

In addition, John Trzeciak was looking for passion and purpose in his journey and as a long-time resident of State College and a Penn State alumnus and fan, he knew about Uplifting Athletes. Trzeciak is a full-time volunteer and mentor with a wealth of knowledge and skills that will help Uplifting Athletes maximize its resources in the future.

At the peak of their football season, 11 members of the Uplifting Athletes Chapter network donated their time and hard work to run Touchdown Pledge Drives.

In its third year of existence, Arizona, Clemson, Colgate, Florida State, Maryland, Penn State, Penn, Princeton, St. Francis, Stony Brook and Syracuse hosted Touchdown Pledge Drive games.

Penn, who shared the Ivy League title with Princeton, ran a campaign that included all of its Ivy games and included the offense, defense and kicking game. Colgate and Princeton each ran offense vs. defense drives. The remaining eight chapters ran a pledge drive based solely on touchdowns.

We are grateful for all the blessings of this past year that allowed us to serve the rare disease community. We are excited for 2017.

Together … We Are … Stronger!

 

Plenty of success on the field in 2016 for Uplifting Athletes Chapters including pair in College Football Playoff and duo sharing Ivy League crown


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The 2016 season was another strong year for Uplifting Athletes Chapter schools on the football field.

Two of the four teams in the College Football Playoff are aligned with Uplifting Athletes. Three programs won a Power 5 FBS Conference Championships, and a pair our FCS schools shared the Ivy League title.

Pac-12 champion Washington and ACC winner Clemson will compete in the College Football Playoff as the Nos. 4 and 2 seeds, respectively.

Penn State joined the Huskies and Tigers in claiming conference bragging rights when the Nittany Lions stormed back to edge Wisconsin in the Big Ten title game.

The Nittany Lions just missed out on the College Football Playoff, finishing No. 5 overall, but the consolation prize is a trip the Rose Bowl.

Congratulations to the Princeton Tigers and Penn Quakers on winning the Ivy League crown. This was the second consecutive year Penn shared the Ivy title. Princeton last won at least a share of the Ivy League championship was 2013.

Joining Washington, Clemson and Penn State in the college football bowl season are Baylor, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, Nebraska, Northwestern and South Carolina.

Thank you to all the Uplifting Athletes Chapters for making the rare disease community a priority in 2016.

 

 

Uplifting Athletes Chapters cross the goal line for 2016 Touchdown Pledge Drive season with strong finish


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At the peak of their football season, 11 members of the Uplifting Athletes Chapter network donated their time and hard work to run Touchdown Pledge Drives.

In its third year of existence, Arizona, Clemson, Colgate, Florida State, Maryland, Penn State, Penn, Princeton, St. Francis, Stony Brook and Syracuse hosted Touchdown Pledge Drive games.

This empowered our college football student-athlete led chapters to continue their mission of using college football as a platform to inspire the rare disease community with hope through the power of sport.

Penn, who shared the Ivy League title with Princeton, ran a campaign that included all of its Ivy games and included the offense, defense and kicking game. Colgate and Princeton each ran offense vs. defense drives. The remaining eight chapters ran a pledge drive based solely on touchdowns.

All total the 2016 Touchdown Pledge Drives raised nearly $35,000 in support of the rare disease community through Uplifting Athletes.

To learn more about the individual accomplishments of each chapter, visit the Uplifting Athletes 2016 Touchdown Pledge Drive page.

Proceeds from the Uplifting Athletes 2016 Touchdown Pledge Drive supports rare disease research and patient focused programs.

Thank you to each of the 11 chapters and all those who donated for shining a spotlight on the rare disease community.

Visit upliftingathletes.org to learn more about our mission or click here to help fund life saving research today!

Florida State RB Dalvin Cook sets school record for rushing yards with 228 yards and four touchdowns to earn Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week


dalvin-cook-1Florida State continues to make itself more attractive as bowl game pick despite a three-loss season. Two of those three setbacks, Clemson and North Carolina, are by three or fewer points.

Running back Dalvin Cook is arguably the best back in the country and he had another big game for the Seminoles on the road at Syracuse with 225 yards and four touchdowns for FSU’s fourth in a row to claim Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week.

Cook, a junior from Miami, rang up his 225 yards on 28 carries with touchdowns runs of 25, 17, 11 and 8 yards with three of those coming in the third quarter when the Seminoles seized control of a 21-7 game at halftime. Cook also became the No. 1 rusher in Florida State history during his big afternoon under the dome.

Uplifting Athletes Player of the Week 2016

Week 1: QB DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame

Week 2: QB Jake Browning, Washington

Week 3: QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., Nebraska

Week 4: RB Ty Johnson, Maryland

Week 5: QB Trace McSorley, Penn State

Week 6: QB Eric Dungey, Syracuse

Week 7: QB Shane Thorson, Northwestern

Week 8: QB Justin Johnson, Georgia Tech

Week 9: WR John Ross, Washington

Week 10: QB Alex Torgersen, Penn